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Vote the week: Are roller coasters better up front, or in back?

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Published: April 16, 2009 at 10:59 PM

This week's vote comes from our Theme Park Tips section, where last week, a Theme Park Insider reader submitted an engaging tip on where to sit on a roller coaster. "Forget going to the front of a roller coaster, the real thrill is a the back!" the reader suggested.

You can vote yes or no on that tip, if you'd like. And I'm going to promote the question here, by making it our vote of the week. I'm adding a third option, too, as not to push the leaners or indifferent.

Coaster fans, tell us in the comments why you picked what you did.

And if you are going to Kings Island this week for the debut of Diamondback, be sure to click to our Diamondback page to submit your rating, reviews and photos.

Readers' Opinions

From Joshua Counsil on April 16, 2009 at 11:08 PM
First vote!

Sorry ...

Def the back for me. The front provides a great view, but not the same level of thrill. I love being whipped over hills.

From Tom Faraci on April 16, 2009 at 11:31 PM
If it's my first time riding it and/or the line is short that day, the front. Feels good to be leading the pack.
From Marc Ricketts on April 16, 2009 at 11:32 PM
I remember when my son was 3 or 4, and we were riding the jr coaster at Great America, in the front, when I mentioned that it felt faster in the back. He immediately jumped up and proceeded to the rear-that's my boy! If I ride a coaster enough, I'll try the front at some point. Floorless coasters (Medusa, Scream) are particularly good, and Fire Dragon has the most front row intensity of any I've ridden. But it's like the end of a whip. The front goes over a hill more slowly because of the drag from the rest of the train. The back crests the hill Being pulled by the train going down the other side. When Santa Cruz's Giant Dipper comes out of the curve above the station while dropping, in the back it feels like someone is stepping on the gas pedal of a powerful engine. Back seat, Baby!
From Scot Harkins on April 16, 2009 at 11:32 PM
I voted for the front seat of the coaster. I like to see where I'm going and I like to get the time to look at stuff as we approach..."stuff" here being the structure and other features of the coaster itself. Drives my wife nuts that she's screaming and I'm going "hmmm...someone needs to clean up the hats under the coaster...oh, interesting lift mechanism...". Plus I like that bit of hang time...the moment you get to see your death approaching before the back of the train pushes you into the abyss.
From Randy Clover on April 16, 2009 at 11:42 PM
I for one like the middle on some coasters. The ride just seems smoother. While I admit, I normally ride in the back to start with, I like the middle because you do not get the lag of the front seat, and you are not thrust into the train from the rear seat. So I vote, the Middle.
From James Rao on April 17, 2009 at 4:34 AM
Generally, I just grab first available, but everyone wants to be in front, unless it is a class room or school bus!

However, I voted for front row, although there is some merit to the back row, especially for wooden coasters with twisting layouts, and older coasters with big drops. But for most modern hypers and inverted coasters the experience is almost always diminished unless you are in the front row.

From 76.181.138.211 on April 17, 2009 at 6:08 AM
I'm all about the front....best view in the house. The back seat is good too because of the G's, but it depends on the coaster. For instance I don't recommend the back seat on an old Arrow looper for the sake of your neck, but I do on the newer steel (try Millennium Force's back seat). The back seat of certain wooden coasters (The Beast...at night) is quite the experience. On others it hurts.

Rarely do I sit anywhere but the front or back.

From Andy Guinigundo on April 17, 2009 at 6:52 AM
I always love the view from the front. I agree with James. There are some wooden coasters where the back is cool.

The Beast is bumpy as heck in the back which is a fun ride!

From Raymond Sydowski on April 17, 2009 at 6:54 AM
The back is best. For me the front of the train is for the same class of people who type "first" into comment sections. :)
From TH Creative on April 17, 2009 at 7:35 AM
Always up front. I've ridden Hulk about five or six times. Every time I have been in the front seat and every time I have ben riding with someone who has never been on the ride before.
From 71.201.41.116 on April 17, 2009 at 9:16 AM
Always the back on woodies- that's where the wildest ride is. Actually, I really like the front row of the back car (if there are 2 or 3 rows) because you can brace your feet against the car, whereas further back, there's just a space under the seat in front of you. Better for hands up riding!

On visually intense steel rides- like Dueling Dragons and Millenium Force- I'll usually try for the front, at least for one ride.

From Don Neal on April 17, 2009 at 10:11 AM
The back can be a great ride with the force of the pull on the first hill and some whipping action in the turns. But nothing compares to the first person, unblocked view of going down the hill, entering a loop, and hanging on the edge before the train catches up and plunges to the bottom!

Front Row FTW!

From Eric Malone on April 17, 2009 at 10:41 AM
While the back seems faster, I've always enjoyed the front. I just don't get to go there often because half the parks seem to have the same idea and I honestly don't feel like waiting the extra hour. If I get there early enough I try to jump onto the front.
From Joshua Counsil on April 17, 2009 at 11:17 AM
Got me there, Ray.

It's my first time doing it, though.

From Mike West on April 17, 2009 at 12:00 PM
It usually depends on the impact of the coaster, if its an intense one, I wont pick the back first time, because it increases the intensity.
The Giant Dipper I do both front & back back for speed, front for that airtime that Ricketts described earlier.
But that's the only coaster I have a thing for with exception of a Swartzkopf Shuttle launch like Tidal Wave/Montezuma's Revenge
(Both seats have their charms on boomerangs).
From Robert Miller on April 17, 2009 at 12:36 PM
I go with the front, but have been in the back on a lot of woodies too. Like others have said, it depends on the coaster. Here's an added question Robert, if your riding a woodie coaster going backwards, where do you sit? I still sit in the front, but then it's actually the back, so am I getting the best of both worlds at one time? I get the whip effect, plus I can see where I've been, great huh?
From Amanda Jenkins on April 17, 2009 at 1:18 PM
I prefer either the front or middle. I like a good thrill without the whiplash and battered head.
From Mark Mahoney on April 17, 2009 at 1:46 PM
Coasters generally seem smoother in the front. While some people say you get more airtime in back, the difference is nominal. On the other hand, the difference in wind and the sensation of speed is significant, with a much better experience in the front. I'll take the front over the back for most coasters (depending on the lines.)
From Susan Dyer on April 17, 2009 at 2:00 PM
It's the back for me. I always seem to have a better ride in the back. The coaster I do prefer to go in the front for is Sheikra as you get the view down as you're holding at the top.
From Larry Zimmerman on April 17, 2009 at 2:23 PM
For the record, I will sit anywhere. I prefer the back, tho', for the reasons mentioned. Front is OK, if I've already done the back. Millenium Force, Apollo's Chariot, Montu -- all are GREAT from the front, but even better from the back.
No innuendoes, please...
From James Rao on April 17, 2009 at 4:14 PM
Just ask Fabio how much he liked riding in the front row of Apollo's Chariot! The goose he hit probably didn't like it much either! ;)
From 99.14.110.24 on April 17, 2009 at 4:38 PM
The back is always better if you want to go really fast down the hill.
From Chuck Campbell on April 17, 2009 at 4:47 PM
I do think that, in general, you get the most airtime (and most insane ride) in the back. This is particularly true of Apollo's Chariot at Busch Gardens. But a front seat ride at night, when you have to stare down into the abyss, is great, and some coasters are a bit too rough in the back (not to mention on the back). This is true of the Loch Ness Monster at Busch.
From John Charlton on April 17, 2009 at 8:02 PM
I agree with Chuck. Being from VA, I have been to BGE (and KD) many times. The front of Apollo's Chariot is certainly a bit unsettling as you crest that first hill and are looking down.. WOW.

Front, Back or Middle.. I will usually take whatever is available when the parks are crowded.

From 206.53.153.189 on April 17, 2009 at 9:07 PM
Definitely the back for woodies. For Inverts I prefer the front for the view. Other coasters I'll just go for what's available but generally I tend to lean towards the front.
From 69.76.111.26 on April 17, 2009 at 10:11 PM
I usually prefer the back, as I LOVE airtime!!!!!
From 72.138.135.183 on April 18, 2009 at 11:04 AM
If you want to go the fastest, the back is the place to be. The front is cool, but it's the most tame place to sit; the further back, the better.
From Erin B on April 18, 2009 at 12:17 PM
I voted for the back. While I do love riding up front because of the view and whatnot, the back is a totally different experience. I like the pull that you feel. You feel like you're completely at the mercy of the coaster [hopefully that makes sense].
From Ryan Sanford on April 18, 2009 at 2:44 PM
Depends on the coaster. I voted first available.

It wouldn't matter on a coaster like space mountain.

From Claudine Deshaies on April 19, 2009 at 10:51 AM
I voted for Front. I always try for Front on the first ride - it's the best scare and view-wise. But I then have to try the back for speed. After that, it's whatever is available for the other 10 or so times. :)
From 75.65.111.117 on April 19, 2009 at 2:25 PM
I have always loved the front of the coaster because the view of that first drop from the front is out of this world. I always want to look down and see what's coming and have never been disappointed so far.
Hope to have the opportunity to ride DiamondBack in the near future.

Sincerely,
50 year old coaster fan.

From Brandon S on April 19, 2009 at 6:58 PM
Definetly the front. There's nothing like getting to actually see straight down that first drop. And if your ever at Cedar Point during halloweekends, the front seat on Millennium Force at night is a must.
From rick stevens on April 19, 2009 at 10:31 PM
I said the front, and I stick with it on most coasters. As so many have said, it really depends on the coaster. I think you should try all of the seating to really experience the thrills of the ride and then decide.
From Tom McGill on April 20, 2009 at 11:45 AM
I went with the back, though it does vary from coaster to coaster. If I'm on Phoenix at Knoebels or Apollo's Chariot at BG the airtime in the back seat is just downright illegal. My 5 year old son rode it for the first time last season and he literally was levitating. Some rides, like any Inverted and Steel Force at Dorney are definite front seaters. The inverted's are not airtime machines but the view up front is outstanding, and Steel Force because you get floater airtime up front as opposed to the ejector airtime and painful slams back down (for a guy anyway)in back.
From 76.88.68.178 on April 20, 2009 at 10:52 PM
Front row for me.......I love the view...and can anticipate the "rough" spots.....less pain in the neck from getting whipped....

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